The Curious Case of the Boy With The Large Head

Nothing Happened in Coronation


I lived in Coronation an Alberta village in Canada, until I was 18.This is the 6th of 25

Coronation stories & essays.


The Curious Case of the Boy With

The Large Head


They say nothing happens in Coronation.

I beg to differ.

When I was 12, I lived in Coronation on the plains of Alberta, Canada.

Our tiny town had a Chinese laundry, a drugstore, two hardware stores, three restaurants and four farm implement dealerships.

An ancient Chinese, Shorty, who chain-smoked hand-rolled cigarettes in a spittle-stained ivory holder, owned the laundry.


Shorty hooked a gas-powered hand-tiller to a box with wheels and used the contraption (mankind’s first All-Terrain Vehicle) to deliver clean sheets every other day to the town’s only hotel, the Royal Crown.


He charged four cents a sheet.

Four cents was not much in the early 50s but certainly more than one could earn in China.

This may have been the reason that Shorty’s son, Freddie, (and his new bride) emigrated from China to become quasi-indentured servants in the Canadian laundry.


I taught Freddie and his bride, Winnie, how to speak English. They attempted to teach me Chinese. I can still say “sheet” in Mandarin.

Freddie and Winnie produced two children. A boy, George, was born with a gigantic head. He was a hydrocephalic. The kids branded him Humpty Dumpty.

Because of our English-Chinese lessons I was one of the few people in Coronation who could communicate with Winnie and Freddie. We used a little Chinese and a lot of Pidgin English.

My best friend, Brent, told me that when Humpty Dumpty reached nine years old his skull would explode.


I questioned this but Brent increasingly fixated on the eventual brain explosion and became obsessed with informing the parents of what was in store for their family.

I was small for my age and a pain in the neck. Brent, who had the strength of an ox, was my protector.

This was fortunate because there were several bullies who liked to knock me around.

Brent threatened to abandon me to these miscreants unless I agreed to relay his prediction of “an exploding head” to George’s parents.

I tried everything to get out of being the go-between.

I even offered to teach Brent Chinese so he could deliver his dire revelation but he said there was no time. The parents must be notified immediately.

On a Saturday morning, we went to the laundry and while Brent nodded encouragement, I told the parents in fractured English-Chinese that Brent wanted them to know that their son’s head would explode in the very near future.

I did not use the word explode, but a Chinese phrase that meant a very serious headache.

Freddie and Winnie said they knew.

They had talked to many doctors and apparently poor George’s skull would be subject to great pressure.


The parents asked me to inquire of Brent what they should do.

Brent thought for a moment, then told me to warn Freddie and Winnie that they should get out of the way when Humpty Dumpty blew up.

Luckily, before I could translate this, the old Chinese patriarch of the laundry arrived on the world’s first ATV and screamed at his son and daughter-in-law to attend to the solvent solutions where dry cleaning was tumbling around in huge metal drums.

George’s head never exploded.


As a matter-of-fact, in his mid teens, Humpty Dumpty became a normal kid, although he still had a huge head. His body almost caught up with the rest of him.

In later years, George was the subject of a bizarre investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, of which I was a part.

largehead-8The conclusion of the Curious Case concerning the RCMP and the boy with the Huge Head can be read at this very website.






Some of the best singers in the world grew up near Coronation. k.d. lang is such a person. My dad fixed some of the teeth that belonged to her family. By the way, Dad was a dentist.



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